The partnership project is a free, non-commercial service to match demand and supply for items such as PPE, sanitiser and others needed to address the pandemic.

Partnership receives funding boost to develop AI to meet equipment supply and demand in Covid-19 pandemic

A partnership between the University of Exeter and Applegate has secured a significant funding boost to help develop new, cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence technology to help match supply and demand for vital health equipment during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The partnership, involving experts from the University’s Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, has been awarded £50,000 as part of a £40 million Government investment to drive forward new technological advances.

The scheme announced on May 20th by Business Secretary Alok Sharma, confirmed the government’s commitment to double the investment in the £20 million Fast Start Competition.

The scheme saw more than 8,600 companies from across the country apply for the funding, designed to support businesses delivering the innovation that will help surmount challenges raised by the coronavirus pandemic.

The partnership project is a free, non-commercial service to match demand and supply for items such as PPE, sanitiser and others needed to address the pandemic.

The initial service was launched in April, and has succeeded in getting tens of millions of items to the frontline, often in cases where the purchaser had exhausted other options.

The new funding boost from the Innovate UK grant will support the project to develop the platform further, enabling it to cope with greater volumes - and so provide ongoing support through the current pandemic - as well as delivering a resilient tool to address supply chain disruptions caused by future crises.

Richard Everson, Head of the Data Science Institute said: “It’s fantastic to see how cutting edge data science at the University is being used to innovate new solutions with Applegate in the Covid-19 crisis.”

Stuart Brocklehurst, from Applegate said: “This award is a vote of confidence in our work, which has proven so vital in helping get essential supplies to the frontline in this crisis. It’s a particular pleasure to be working with the University of Exeter again: this really shows the practical benefits that collaboration between academia and business can deliver.”

The investment comes from a £211 million government support package to drive forward business-led innovation and is part of a wider investment package of £1.25 billion for innovative UK businesses, announced by the Chancellor on 20 April 2020.

At the announcement of the awards, Business Secretary Alok Sharma, said: “The coronavirus crisis has created challenges that impact the way we live, work and travel but has also prompted a wave of new innovations as businesses look at ways to solve some of the challenges facing our world today.

“This funding will support UK start-ups to deliver potential solutions, services and ways of working and help ensure the long term sustainability of these businesses.”

“The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Kemi Badenoch added: “The UK is a world-leader in research and development, and our ability to innovate will be key to tackling this crisis.

“This £40 million of funding will deliver practical solutions such as new virtual farmers markets and entertainment platforms to bring the best British produce and cultural entertainment to our own homes.”

Date: 21 May 2020